A new study by the University of Leicester has revealed that an alarming number of hate crimes are committed by people who are close to the victim such as friends, neighbours, colleagues, family members or carers.
The study called Leicester Hate Crime project was undertaken by the Department of Criminology at the University of Leicester, which took place over two years and was funded by the Economic and Social Research Council.
The harrowing experiences of the victims included being tipped from wheelchairs, having faeces put through letterboxes, to one victim having her house set on fire. Having heard from over 1500 victims, many of the victims suffer in silence due to lack of knowledge of available support say researchers.
Lead researcher on Leicester Hate Crime project Stevie Jade Hardy explains, “We had three main aims when we started the Leicester Hate Crime project, that was to find out as much as possible about people’s experience of being targeted because of who they were. Secondly we wanted to find out the impact, not just on the victim, but also their family. Finally we wanted to find out peoples experiences of trying to report their experience of hate crime or if they received support or of what we could be doing better”.
“The victims want the practitioners to listen to them, to treat them with empathy and yet that is not being done. We heard from victims time and time again who had gone to report it, and felt that they were not being taken seriously”.
“There is no one type of hate crime offender, I think we like to think that they are strangers, they are different from the rest of us, far right extremists, but actually they are ordinary people, and they can often be known to the victim and can come from a diverse range of communities”.
Rachel Bodycot, a victim of hate crime, who endured years of abuse says, “My wheelchair was slashed and damaged. I was dragged out of my wheelchair which was a bit scary and my house was burnt down”
“I could smell the smoke, I could see the flames, but I couldn’t get out because I am hoisted, I cant explain how much fear you have at that moment, because you can hear the ceiling falling, the smoke is choking you. If it wasn’t for the next door neighbour the fire brigade says five minutes in there and I wouldn’t be here now”.